Former England batter Mark Butcher, speaking on the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, explained how, in his view, Michael Vaughan is “not a racist”, with the Ashes-winning captain implicated in English cricket’s racism scandal.
Vaughan is alleged to have said to a group of four players of Asian heritage, “there are too many of you lot, we need to do something about it”, but denies the accusation. Adil Rashid and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan have corroborated Rafiq’s version of events.
Butcher, speaking before Vaughan’s interview with the BBC, played 71 Tests for England, scoring 4,288 runs. He played under Vaughan in 17 games from 2003 to 2004. Butcher explained how his former skipper can be a “Piers Morgan-lite Twitter personality”, but stressed that in his view, Vaughan is not a racist.
“Michael Vaughan is a lot of things,” Butcher said. “He takes a sort of Piers Morgan-lite Twitter personality thing much too far for somebody with the reputation that he has or should have had. He’s been the Ashes-winning captain in 2005 and can make a bit of a plonker of himself on there at times. But I’ve played him with and against him for the best part of 15 years, and he’s a lot of things but he’s not a racist in my view.”
He added that Vaughan could have made utterances without realising the magnitude of his words. Vaughan explicitly denies having made the comments, rather than claiming he doesn’t remember doing so.
“There’s a very good chance, and I go back to Rafiq’s testimony, that guys would say things about the minority players playing for Yorkshire and not even realise they were doing it. So ingrained was it… Why would anyone remember saying stuff like that?” he said.
“And he might have said it. I might have said something to someone at some point in my career. I don’t know. I doubt it, but it’s possible, and if every utterance that people make in a dressing room becomes something that you can potentially lose your job over, then there aren’t going to be many cricketers left.”
Butcher went on to add that instead of pulling up teammates for what they said 12 years ago, making the future of cricket safer should be the aim of everyone involved.
“What happens with that is you end up with a back-and-forth, this claim and counter-claim that ‘you’re morally corrupt, you said this, you did that.’ And in the end, none of it can be proven and none of it does anything but create animosity,” he added.